MENTAL HEALTH

Give yourself grace and achievable goals for your New Year’s resolution, therapist says

Dec 28, 2023, 3:00 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2023, 11:08 am

New Year's resolution, new years celebration shown...

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2020, file photo, confetti falls at midnight on the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration in New York. (Ben Hider/Invision/AP, File)

(Ben Hider/Invision/AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s that time of year when the pressure is ramped up to make a lasting or life-changing New Year’s resolution. However, one Utah therapist said the culture surrounding this type of goal setting isn’t always helpful.

Therapist and owner of The Family Therapy Clinic in American Fork, Nikki Harmon, said this time of year is often hard for people who struggle to feel good about themselves. Harmon said the intense, ambitious goal-setting that’s expected of us during the new year doesn’t often yield happy or sustainable results.

“I think sometimes, especially on New Year’s when people are setting these really intense, lofty goals. We’re burning hot, but we’re burning really fast, right? So like, we might burn really hot, but in two weeks, we’re exhausted, we can’t keep it up. It’s difficult to maintain.”

These lofty goals can trap you in an “all-or-nothing” mindset.

“So many people grow up with this kind of ‘all or nothing’ mindset, this idea of scrupulosity is [that] everything has to be perfect. Kind of this idea that we have to be perfect or it’s nothing.”

Harmon said that that kind of thinking can make people feel like failures for not reaching impossibly large goals.

Goals are good, but so is consistency

Goals in and of themselves aren’t bad. If you want to make positive changes in your life, Harmon said to focus on consistency instead of loftiness.

She recommended setting goals that are “in the gray area” rather than all-or-nothing. Those, she said, are much healthier and easier to maintain.

“If you can’t maintain a goal, then you can’t be successful at it. You know, anybody could do anything for a week. But you get healthier, you get happier, you get better at whatever you’re working towards when you can be consistent. And so the idea of setting a goal that you’re capable of doing consistently is going to be much, much more successful than a really high goal that you can’t be doing consistently.”

If you do have trouble reaching your goal, Harmon suggested reframing your mindset. Instead of feeling like you’ve failed, think of it as having more that you can work on.

Finally, Harmon suggested giving yourself some grace this season.

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Give yourself grace and achievable goals for your New Year’s resolution, therapist says